Derailments are the most common type of train accident in Maryland, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis. Of the recorded 50 accidents recorded in the state in 2011 and 2012, 26 were derailments.
CSX trains collide with vehicles at Maryland intersections roughly a dozen times each year, the data show.
Two teenage college students were killed in downtown Ellicott City last August when a train carrying coal derailed and buried them in debris. A preliminary report by the NTSB suggested that investigators were focused on track conditions; a final report has not been issued. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said the formal investigation can take between 12 and 18 months to complete.
After the crash Tuesday, authorities shut down U.S. 40 westbound at Rosedale Road, and eastbound at 64th Street. The Interstate 95, I-895 and I-695 ramps to U.S.40 were closed.
Authorities said they did not know what caused the crash. An undated aerial image of the area from Google Earth shows an open stretch of track that connects the industrial park with a property that appeared to be full of roll-off Dumpsters.
Alban's business was listed in the 1000 block of 68th Street.
William Stump, treasurer of the Hyde Park Fire Co., said Alban has volunteered with the company for about 25 years. Stump said he had been in contact with Alban's family.
"We heard he's doing pretty good," Stump said.
Traffic was jammed on Pulaski Highway as emergency trucks and responders raced to the fire. All along the way, people stood outside and stared at the billowing plume of smoke.
Residents going home from work were not being allowed into the neighborhood around the fire.
The smell of acrid smoke filled the area as armies of fire trucks and paramedics arrived. Officers blocked the path of a woman in a gold Ford Explorer. She yelled, "I'm just trying to get my kid"; they rerouted her.
The front window at the Atlantic Tire shop on Pulaski Highway was a gaping hole, and employees stood outside, marveling at the plumes. They said they watched garage light bulbs explode.
"Definitely catches you off guard," employee Matt Ashline said. "I want to get over there."
Nearly 300 students at Greater Grace Church on Moravia Park Road sheltered in place after the explosion.
Mike Veader, the church's head of security, said he was standing in the parking lot reporting the plume of smoke when the explosion occurred.
"The ball of fire looked kind of like the one in Texas, the same thing," he said. "It went up probably 300 feet."
Explosions at a fertilizer plant last month in West, Texas, left 15 dead.
Scores of people on Twitter reported feeling a "shock wave" as far away as Canton, Pasadena and Bel Air. Small business owner Robert D. Wray wrote that it shook the windows on his condo in Fells Point.
A Patterson Park resident wrote: "Dogs and I all jumped. Neighbor said her curtains blew in!"
Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Erin Cox, Michael Dresser, Jon Meoli and Lorraine Mirabella contributed to this article.
Notable Md. rail accidents
August 2012: Two teenagers sitting beside the tracks in Ellicott City were killed when a CSX train loaded with coal derailed and buried them in coal.
March 2010: Eight of the 60 cars on a CSX freight train derailed alongside Patapsco State Park, spilling plastic pellets and debris that took more than a month to clean up. No one was hurt.
December 2006: 100 homes near the border of Carroll and Howard counties were evacuated when a tanker carrying liquid ammonia derailed.
July 2002: 101 people were injured — at least six seriously — when an Amtrak passenger train en route to Washington derailed in Montgomery County.
July 2001: Sixty cars, some carrying toxic chemicals, derailed inside the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, igniting an inferno that burned for days and stopped nearly all north-south freight traffic on the East Coast for almost a week. No one was killed or injured.
January 2000: A 15-year-old boy in Garrett County was killed when a train derailed and crashed through his home.